Former President George H.W. Bush was recalled as a man of “quiet faith” during a state funeral at Washington National Cathedral, a fitting site to memorialize the longtime Episcopalian.
“With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother George for burial,” intoned Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the start of the Wednesday (Dec. 5) ceremony as the 41st president’s casket was carried by military members into the cathedral.
All of the living former and current presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — joined the 3,000 dignitaries, family and friends at the invitation-only ceremony.
The senior Bush’s eldest child, former President George W. Bush, gave an emotional tribute to his father, highlighting his service to country and his focus on giving back to others.
“Dad taught us that public service is noble and necessary, that one can serve with integrity and hold true to the important values like faith and family,” the 43rd president said. “To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light.”
Other family members took turns reading Scripture, including Jenna Bush Hager — daughter of the 43rd president — who touched her grandfather’s flag-draped casket before she read from Revelation 21, whose first verse begins: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.”
The Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, said the elder Bush made Levenson’s job as his pastor for almost a dozen years an easy one because of the late president’s concern more for others than for himself.
“Jesus Christ, for George Bush, was at the heart of his faith, but his was a deep faith, a generous faith, a simple faith in the best sense of the word,” said Levenson in his homily. “He knew and lived Jesus’ two greatest commandments: to love God and to love your neighbor.”